Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Forms of Creativity

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I paint. I have since I was in my early teens, and for a long while I considered being a material arts major. I took every art course in high school (and then some), and studied rather a lot of different forms, as well as years of art history. And I was pretty good at it. Ultimately, I decided I liked general history more, but that doesn't mean I stopped being an artist, anymore than I stopped being a writer because I became an academic.

Occasionally, when I can, I paint. I've always gravitated towards oils, because I like their flexibility, and the nature of painting with them. I love that it takes so long for them to dry. It makes for amazing layers and textures. And I also like how long it takes to paint with oils. This is not something you knock off in an afternoon, anymore than a 1000 page novel is. I like seeing how a novel will develop, and I like seeing how a painting will too.

Now that I'm back in Canada, I have access to all my paints again, so I've returned to that thing I like best. It's a great source for my creativity.

I started this a few weeks ago (although I haven't been able to work on it for more than a week now).

Tomorrow I'm planning on doing the final layer for the water, and starting the base layer for the shore. Then that will have to dry for several days, until I can build onto it. Hopefully on Sunday. I'm absolutely thrilled with the perspective right now, and the clouds are pretty nice. I'm looking forward to the massive red leafed tree that sits in the foreground on the left. That'll be fun! 

I'll share a few more pics as it develops.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


For those in the sector, MuseumNext is sort of that conference a lot of people talking about going to, and then are really pleasantly surprised when they do go.

People told me a lot of things about MuseumNext before I went. I figured, with all I had heard, some of it had to be exaggerated, or blatantly untrue.

Not true. There were a few things that were not quite what I expected, but I think that had more to do with the fact it was the first time the conference had been hosted in America, and naturally hosting internationally is going to change a few things.  Overall, it was well-organized, friendly and supportive, sometimes innovative, always interesting, and very social. I think it's more social in Europe, because a lot of people regularly attend each year and know each other, and this was a bit different because almost everyone was new to it.

The theme was, ostensibly, 'inclusion', although the definition of that got lost somewhere, as 'inclusion' turned out to be rather, well, 'exclusionary' in reality. There was a lot of 'look at all the things we did!' and not a lot of 'this is how you engage those groups that absolutely would not otherwise walk through your door' which is what inclusion actually is to me. There was also very little reference (baring one fantastic presentation) on black communities (which Indiana has a lot of), other racial minorities, the poor, or really, much other than LGBT and young people. Which is great, but is not the definition of 'inclusion'.

I also found that the point about the museum industry being exclusive was raised a lot, but no one really had any recommendations of how to change things. We've been talking about this for years, and I find European museums are actually (slowly) becoming pretty diverse in the work and volunteer force, but it's clear America (and Canada) are a long way behind. There was a lot of 'well, we've been talking about this for 10 years, when you are going to do something?' Inclusions been a hot topic in Europe as long as I've been doing museums, so having an 'innovative' inclusion conference in the US sort of rang of 'late to the party'.

Still, there were some amazing infinitives, not least of which is what Nina Simon is doing in Santa Cruz with their poor communities, the amazingly diverse work of the Amsterdam Museum, the hands-on (rather than tech-on) projects at the Science Gallery in Dublin, and just what you can do when someone gives you millions of dollars and says 'have at' (crop art, apparently).

I'm glad I went. I'm glad I got to spend time with some European compatriots, I'm glad I got to taste some lovely food, I'm glad I got to see Indianapolis, and I'm glad the conference was so well attended. I'm less glad that, unsurprisingly, there were a lot of problems raised, and not a lot of problem solving going on. Seems to be par for the course in the industry these days.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Well, on Thursday I am off for my first ever solo road trip. I'm not going that far, in the grand scheme of things, but eight hours is further than I've driven on my own (and up until last January, further than I've ever driven even sharing with someone else). I'm headed to Indiana for MuseumNext, the first time this world-renown European conference has been held in the States. So that's exciting. It's an amazing conference, so I hope this US edition will be just as good.

But it means I'm going to have a whirlwind tour of Michigan/Ohio/Indiana. Two of those states I've never been to, so we'll cross those off the list. I'm sure I'll be exhausted, driving down Thursday, two days of jam-packed conferencing, and then back on Sunday. Then 6 straight days of 8 hour shifts at work.

So, life's fun right now. To think, I was almost bored a few weeks ago.

*laughs hysterically*

Further up and further in, my readers. This ECR thing is lots of fun.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Social Media Making

I've decided to start a new, on-going, series of posts to this blog. I've been toying with this idea for a long time (*cough*6 years*cough*), but I was never really certain if I should quite go ahead with it. Partly that is because this might very well be the area of work I get into (one day), and having most of my expert knowledge posted free and publicly rather defeats the purpose of being paid for a living. And partly it is because I'm never really certain how many people read blogs, or how many people who do find this useful would actually read this one (bets are few).

However, I've decided to bite the bullet. I know plenty of bloggers who post things that they don't feel are useful, and yet readers gobble it up. So maybe there is a chance. And if I only help one person, that's still worth the effort, I think.  Maybe that person will help another person and so on.

But first, a little bit of history to begin with.

I first got into social media in 2009. Except that's a bold faced lie. I first got into social media in 1997 when I discovered chat rooms, but I was *cough*young*cough* and we don't talk about that. But then, social media in the 1990s was not yet a 'thing'. A thing talked about, at least. Our concept of social media comes mainly from the last 10 or so years, particularly since Facebook took off. It has existed since the Internet began, but social media is mostly a construct of our new networked society where the Web is accessible and open for most people (rather than just the early adopters or the geeks - I was both).

But it wasn't until 2007 that I discovered Facebook, as did most people. And it wasn't until 2009 that I had a Twitter account. Though my first blog dates to 2002 and I've had a Photobucket account as long as Photobucket has existed. And then there were all those chat room personas...that we don't talk about.

In other words I, like most people, came to social media over a period of time. It started with one site and then, as the Internet spread, I got involved in more and more things. Now, like most people, I maintain a presence (that might not be strictly 'me') on nearly a dozen social media platforms, and half a dozen others that I have lost log-ins to or that have mainly gone the way of the dodo bird, as has most of the Web. And sometimes, having that many sites to keep track of means I neglect one or two for longer than intended (like this blog), and spend hours of the day on others (Twitter - no Pinterest).

However, over the years I've come to know most social media sites, at least in what we could call the mainstream ones. There are others I've purposefully stayed clear from (Tumblr) and a few I delayed getting involved in (Pinterest), but for the most part, I've used the vast majority of them, and made an effort to understand what they are for and where they can fit into my life (and where they don't). But that is a lot of work, as anyone who is social media savvy will know. And often it's more work than people on the outside are willing to expend, without understanding what the pros and cons are (or only seeing the cons). I understand it can be daunting, particularly if you've stayed on the fringes of social media all these years (and if you have, congrats, I sometimes miss being disconnected).

Perhaps there are enough of you out there that are not quite social media savvy, or have a specific social media platform you'd like to know more about (before you start using it), or would like to know how to use (now that you do use it). And perhaps I can help a few of you. It's worth a shot, at least.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Blogging Manifesto

I started a new blog. Which, normally, would mean ignoring this one. I don't want to do that, however, so I thought I'd taken a lesson from Miss Pond, and create a manifesto for this blog. Something I can refer back to whenever I get a bit off-track.

What will I use this blog for?

-career pursuits
-reflecting on job hunting
-issues in the museum field
-comments on getting into novelizing and trying to get published
-flagging up blogs of note in the above fields
-social media opinions and suggestions

What I won't use this blog for:

-PhDing (that's what the other blog is for)
-complaining about how bad life is
-personal issues
-referencing other blogs (except where they relate to career/novelizing)
-procrastinating from writing entries for my other blog (or working)

Well, that's a start at least. Something I can have to refer back to every time I write a new post. We'll see how that goes for the rest of the year, and maybe I'll come back to this again in January and see how I've been getting on, and revise, where needed. It's a work in progress.